RE: Marino Franchitti: PH Meets

RE: Marino Franchitti: PH Meets

Sunday 19th June 2016

Marino Franchitti: PH Meets

PH talks to Ford Chip Ganassi driver Marino Franchitti ahead of the GT's crucial Le Mans debut

Race fans will inevitably following the battle for overall victory in this year's Le Mans 24-hour but, for many, the real fight is in the GTE class where Ford is hoping to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the GT40's first win with a class win for the new GT. To that end Ford Chip Gaassi Racing is entering four GTs - two UK and two US. Together with Andy Priaulx and Harry Tincknell, Marino Franchitti will be driving the #67 car - PH caught up with him for a quick post-qualifying chat to find out what's in store for the race.

Looking the business won't be enough
Looking the business won't be enough
Is Le Mans your favourite endurance race?
"It's definitely the pinnacle event. What's unique is that it's both on public roads and a purpose built track. There's very little margin for error, the walls are right next to you. It's an intimidating place, but it's also one of the most fun tracks to drive around in the world. I love it."

Even when it's raining?
"Yes! Last night [during Qualifying 2] it was pouring with rain in the pit area but the rest of the track was dry. Down the Mulsanne straight in the wet we had to run down the middle of the road because the water pools on the sides, it's got a crown because it's a public road for 360 days of the year."

What's your favourite part of the track?
"The Porsche Curves are the most intimidating part but also the most rewarding. You're in fifth gear and well into three figures, it's bloody fast and you've got to nail it. It's one of the greatest sectors in the world."

Team-mate Harry Tincknell shares #67  car
Team-mate Harry Tincknell shares #67 car
Where is the GT strong against its rivals?
"It has a very nice aero window, I've driven cars before where the peak aero is high but it's very pitch sensitive and it can't give you the right feelings in different attitudes like when you're changing direction. The GT is very, very stable, it gives you a huge amount of confidence; it's remarkably forgiving for a race car. When you trim it at Le Mans - we run very little downforce here - that's very important. I've been driving it since the end of August last year and I felt at home in it straight away. The feeling and the connection was just instantaneous, it's a lovely place to be."

We're hearing lots about Ford's history at Le Mans, what does it mean to you?
"It's a very special thing, to be here 50 years after the 1966 victory. I'm really happy that I'm driving the 67 car, though, because the mk4 GT40 that won in 1967 is just my all-time favourite car, and I'd tell you that whatever it said on my race suit. Everyone is obsessed with the mk2, the '66 car, but for me the mk4 is the most beautiful thing."

Ford needs this win, badly
Ford needs this win, badly
Do you enjoy driving while you're doing it, or just when you look back on it later?
"The driving is the thing I enjoy the most. That's what it's all about, when I'm out there I'm the lead man for the whole team, and for the whole Ford family if you want to look at it like that. It's a huge team effort, but I love the responsibility. Everything is for those moments when you're alone in the car and driving it as hard as you can. I've not been able to get to sleep for the last couple of nights for ages because the adrenaline is pumping so hard."

Is it hard to manage your time when you're not in the car?
"Experience helps with that. You get out, debrief, get fluids on board, eat, massage and then sleep. I'm pretty good at that during the race, I read a book or something, but not the sort about racing that I normally read. Something different. I'm still reading last week's Sunday Times, I bought it on my way out and I'm still going through it."

How long before a stint do you wake up?
"Ideally about an hour, maybe 45 minutes, but sometimes it can be far less than that if something's happened. You can get woken up, slapped about and thrown in the car, you only really wake up as you drive into the first chicane. I've got skipping into my routine now before I drive the car, and that's a massive help. It gets the whole body woken up really quickly. Think about it, you don't go out there with a cold engine and race it off the line, you heat it up. It's the same with the human body."



Track photography: LAT


666 SVT

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Sunday 19th June 2016
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Job done.